Friday, June 22, 2007

Linear, or otherwise

I've just presented a blackboard talk to the students on 'The linear confinement problem in AdS/QCD', a topic which I'm particularly interested in studying more myself. I spoke about the papers by Karch et al. 'Linear confinement and AdS/QCD', Csaki and Reece 'Towards a systematic holographic QCD - a braneless approach' and Shifman 'Highly Excited Hadrons in QCD and Beyond', all of which are clear and inspiring for future research.

I've rather given up on the summer school, which was either too elementary or a little too hand wavy, or just too intensive on subjects I have only a passing interest in (4+ hours in one day on CP violation from the B-meson sector is more than I can take). There's talk on several Beyond the standard model conferences in the far West of China and down in Yunnan which would be lovely to go to but they're not quite in my area. I'm keeping an eye out for a good cosmology conference, before the KITPC program which starts in September.

Cosmologists, string theorists and string cosmologists should all come to China for this program!


After completing most of the preparations for my talk yesterday I headed over to D22, a local bar with an eclectic mix of people, music and events, to watch one of their movies. Having seen clips on TV various times I was keen to see The General from 1927 with Buster Keaton. It's a beautiful film, dated and cliched but Keaton is such an incredible physical actor that everything else apart from his balletic movements and amazing expression are rather overshadowed. Slap-stick, especially of the modern variety doesn't do it for me, but Keaton is so seamless and so expressive that it's a joy to watch.

Looking at still photos of Keaton it's a strange contrast to the expression that come from his movements and if anyone knows a good biography of him I would be intrigued to know why this contradiction is so vast.


Having met him in person a little while ago, I had Jonathan Tel's 'Freud's Alphabet' shipped to me, courtesy of my sister, from England. This is a fictional account, based on the true story of Freud's last few weeks spent in London with terminal cancer. The book is split into chapters labeled alphabetically with Freudian symbols and the book becomes increasingly dreamlike and non-linear as Freud drifts in and out of his morphine haze. Tel's turn of phrase is playful and powerful in equal measure and as long as you don't require linearity and clarity in your stories this book is an interesting journey into dreams, metaphor and the subconscious. Well worth a read.

This links in to the Mario Vargas Llosa book I read while in Japan on the subject of a Storyteller in a Peruvian tribe, which is equally dreamlike, non-linear and imaginatively written. It's been too long since I read it to give it an in depth review but Llosa's story telling, both from his own narrative style and that conjured up for the storyteller's tales of a magical reality weave into each other naturally and give an eloquent picture of an ancient art.

I'm reading another Steinbeck now and enjoying this one as much as ever...expect a review soon.

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